Saturday, May 24, 2014

The early history of the Paris Halles

At the start of 1969, Paris undertook what has been called “the move of the century”, transferring the central food market from its long established home in the Halles to Rungis, outside Paris. This was not only significant in terms of food; the glass and iron pavilions of les Halles had long been part of the Paris landscape. Within a few years, most would be torn down, the remaining two moved elsewhere.

The Halles best known to Parisians was defined by these iconic structures and by its nickname as “the Belly of Paris”. But in fact the pavilions had only been built in 1854, whereas the market itself was many centuries older. Nor was it, at its start, a food market.

The lengthy and little-known history of the Halles is one of urbanism – the early expansion of Paris –, of shifts in royal authority, of changes in economic models and even, arguably, of yet another example of Eastern influence following the Crusades. It has now been explored by a number of writers, all writing in French. What follows here is a look at its first centuries, primarily based on the work of Anne Lombard-Jourdan and Léon Biollay.

The bishop's ditch

The story of the Halles begins with a cemetery. Later this would become the Cemetery of the Holy Innocents, but well before that, the Merovingians buried their dead in part of a space that was, for a very long time, unsettled and well outside Paris. The cemetery was still in use in the ninth century, when the Normans, besieging Paris, destroyed it. About a century later, another cemetery was established there and it became an important one. It was part of a larger site, to the northwest of Paris, known as the Champeaux – the “Little Fields”. As had had happened elsewhere in France over time, an informal market grew up around this cemetery.

It was not unusual in such circumstances for ecclesiastics to claim control of the resulting commerce. As it happens, the Bishop of Paris, Étienne de Senlis, was already laying claim (using, says Lombard-Jourdan, fake documents) to most of the western part of the Right Bank. At some point before 1137, he enclosed the area of the market in a ditch, so that the site in the Champeaux was known as “the Bishop's ditch” (fossatum episcopi) or “the ditch of the Champeau” (fossatum Campelli).

Surrounding the space with a ditch was more than a material gesture; it created a definable space under the bishop's authority. In 822, for instance, Louis the Pious had granted immunity to property around the abbey of Aniane, but on condition that it be surrounded "by ditches, hedges or any other sort of enclosure." The case of the bishop's ditch around the Champeau is somewhat more complicated, since the bishop had already extended his authority over much of this and neighboring areas. Still, the cemetery and the informal market around it had been open to all comers and this was a start of limiting it as a space.

In 1137, King Louis VI (reigned 1108-1137) arranged to share this space with the bishop. The king's interest in the market has been variously explained, but one consideration seems to have been to wrest control of markets and fairs away from the Church; Lombard-Jourdan: "When the Capetians began to reside in a more consistent manner in their Palace in the Cité, the Parisian fairs and markets were all, or almost, in the hands of ecclesiastics."

This was not universally the case. The old Roman forum (both meeting place and market) had been on the Left Bank, but was no longer mentioned in later centuries. Abbo, writing in the ninth century, mentions a market in the Cité (urbs). About a century and a half later, there is mention of an "old market" (vetus forum) which Lombard-Jourdan places on the "Strand" - that is, the place de Grève, which would later be the site of the Town Hall (not to mention numerous executions). If the "old market" was not under the Church's authority, nor was it under the King's; it seems to have been regarded as community property.

So, says Lombard-Jourdan, “the agreement concluded in 1137 between Louis VI and bishop Étienne of Senlis regarding the 'ditch of the Champeaux' is the first sign of royalty taking economic activity back in hand, a first effort to substitute the king's authority for that of the Bishop." They agreed to share the taxes, rents, fines, etc., the king and his associates keeping two thirds, the bishop and his successors only one.

If the bishop accepted a lesser share, she says, it was because of the value of having the king's caution. Note that the ditch surrounded an existing, but informal market. Six months after their agreement, the king decided, on August 1, 1137 that the "new market" (novum forum) would from now on take place at the Champeaux. His son would later say that he had stabilivit the market, which might in one reading mean he had founded it, but here seems more like to mean that he had simply stabilized it; that is, made it official.

Lombard-Jourdan cites this description of the space from centuries later, suggesting that it remained roughly the same:
The territory of this direct royal domain forms a rather large space..., beginning in the rue Saint-Honoré, between that of the Prouvaires and that of the Tonnellerie, following the length of the latter and turning with it until the Saint-Eustache point, rising from there until the ancient hostelry of the Paon, which still exists today, returning by the pillars called those of the Pilory and following them until the rue Pirouette-en-Terrouenne, then regaining the pillars of the tin Potters until the charnel-houses of the Holy Innocents [cemetery], from which it returns to the rue Saint-Honoré, formerly called at this point the rue de la Charronnerie, and from the end of this street, where the old Cat square had been, returning to the corner of the rue de la Tonnellerie.
This is from 1728, but copied from the Terrier de Louis XII (reigned 1498-1515), and so likely to reflect sixteenth century data. But anyone who wants a rough idea of the original space can still find some of these streets on modern maps and easily enough identify the others. Otherwise, it is credible that these boundaries corresponded to the original space in the Champeaux.

In 1138, Louis VI's son, Louis VII, mentioned mercers and money-changers on the site. It seems probable, says Lombard-Jourdan, that these professions were already long-standing by then. This raises one question which she does not address: was the “old market” limited to similar professions or was it a more general one? Unfortunately, too little is known of the earlier Parisian markets to say. But Biollay suggests that then or soon after wheat was also traded in the new market.

Meanwhile, a market for livestock already existed just south of the ditch; it is subsequently mentioned as “the old place of Pigs”. The latter often invaded the cemetery and left their “filth” in it. Lombard-Jourdan: “Sale of livestock, sale of manufactured products: cloth, dry goods, are, originally, more the activities of a fair than a market.”

Right from the start, exceptions were made to the space's function. Before his death, Louis VI granted an abbey the right to three lodgers and an income “in the new market”. In a more curious case, Louis VII granted Adelende Gente the right to build lodgings (probably for artisans and merchants) and an oven in the heart of the market. What inspired this unique generosity?

Adelende had grown up with Louis VI and his wife; why, Lombard-Jourdan does not say. But they continued to show interest in her affairs later. She seems to have been agreeable; she was called "Gente" for her graciousness. She was married to a doctor, master Obizon, who replaced Louis' Jewish doctor from Avignon, Tsour, who died in 1122. Outwardly, this was a desirable marriage; Obizon was a person of some importance. But the two were soon separated and in 1128 officially divided their goods.

Nor is it clear why a woman who appeared to have both royal protection and means built an oven and lodgings at the heart of the market. But soon after his father's agreement with the bishop, Louis VII granted her property there immunity, meaning not only that no rights were due on it but even that royal agents were not to enter it. He also ruled that hers would be the only oven in the enclosure.

Sometime later, Adelende gave all this to the monks of the nearby St. Martin in the Fields. Over time, this would cause all manner of irritations to several kings, as the monks fought to maintain the right (having, apparently, lost the original paperwork, but "repurposed" other documents to support their claim). Among other things, they long had the exclusive right to bake bread in the Halles. The structure itself became known as "the house of the Rappée" and later hosted the most important tavern in the market.

The Champeaux may also already have been used for executions, but the first mention of these there comes from Le Breton, referring to members of a heretical sect under Philip-August: “They were arraigned before the court of king Philip, who, as a very Christian and Catholic king, having called his guards, had them all burned, outside the gate of Paris, in a place called Champeaux.”

Louis VII continued his father's interest in commerce, taking twenty pounds a year from the Saint-Lazare (or St. Ladre; Holy Leper) fair and gave his protection to the St-Germain-de-Près Fair in exchange for half its income. These fairs, held six months apart, were increasingly successful but also under ecclesiastical control. Then he renounced all rights to the Saint-Lazare fair, but reserved the right to punish thieves and protect the merchants there. He also extended the fair's duration several times. Lombard-Jourdan writes, in her study of the origins of Paris:
Whether it concerns the "Champeau ditch", the Saint-Lazare fair or that of Saint-Germain, one can thus follow the evolution of Parisian commerce, from the time of spontaneous gatherings of merchants, passing by the stage of exchanges guarded and protected by the Church, until being taken in hand by Capetian royalty. In this last domain, Louis VI and Louis VII began with energy and lucidity the action which Philip August brought to fruition.
In 1181, the latter bought the rights to the St. Lazare fair from the lepers. Among other things this fair, held near the Champeaux, had competed with the market while being held; now it was transferred to the Champeaux itself.

The first halles

In 1183, Philip August had two large buildings "commonly called halles" built in the Champeaux, as several had urged him to. Not only did these buildings protect goods – at this point largely textiles – from bad weather, the king had a wall built around them with “enough” doors which could be locked at night. These were protection against thieves. Finally, stalls were built between the walls and the buildings.
The outer wall which he built then... definitively marked, it seems, the limits of the halles from the north of the wheat market until the rue de la Ferronerie... Substantial buildings replaced, over time the shelters and stalls without going beyond the space circumscribed by the wall of 1183, with the exception of the fish market built on the neighboring square in Louis IX's times. Until the XVIth century, houses, shops climbed the two sides of the "King's wall", these "large" or "ancient" walls, so often mentioned in the texts.
(Lombard-Jourdan, Origines)
(The term "halles" referred to the covered structures and according to Diderot's Encyclopedia still did in the eighteenth century, even if some used the term to refer to the market itself. Biollay however points out that some sites within the market later referred to as “halles” were not covered.)

The year before, Philip had expelled the Jews of Paris (whom he would later be obliged to recall). A papal bulle from the start of the twelfth century is said to mention Jews in the Champeaux; some of their land, claimed by the Crown, also became part of the Halles.

Even as the market itself was enclosed, the cemetery beside it, the cemetery of the Holy Innocents, was open to anyone who wanted to cross it or use it for other purposes. With the growing market, more and more people did so. Some showed merchandise there; prostitutes plied their trade; both men and pigs left their excrement; the ground became a muddy mass of filth. In 1186, the King, hearing of this, took it seriously enough not only to have a wall, again with doors, built, but to have it made of stone and “high enough, like those made around castles and cities”. Whereas before the cemetery had been shapeless, it became a rectangle of about 6800 square meters, making it the largest cemetery in Paris. The walls remained essentially the same until 1786, when the cemetery, now crowded not only with private chapels, arcades used as charnel-houses and other structures, but over-crowded with the dead, was removed, and the bones dispersed into what today are the Catacombs.

Within a few years, Philip had new walls built around Paris and these included, within their northwestern quadrant, the Little Fields. The market was now part of Paris, not outside it.

By 1263, three halles existed. According to Biollay, St. Louis (reigned 1226-1270) built the two halles for fish. Biollay says, though without citing specifics, that sale of grains at the Champeaux had preceded the founding of the Halles, "because of the insufficience of the market of the Jewry". The fish found in St. Louis' new halle was the only other foodstuff sold; this, says Biollay, was to facilitate the King's "right of [first] taking" (droit de prise), as specified in a statute of July 7, 1307:
And let all fish unloaded at the stone where we are, either in Paris or elsewhere, and when our cooks or those who take for us, for the queen or for our children, will have taken what they wish, the others will take what is their need, except what is taken by others with a right to it.
These first foods then were exceptional in what was still above all a textiles and dry goods market.

Saint Louis also granted a charitable dispensation to the poor who dealt in linen, second-hand clothes and small shoes, allowing them to set up stalls along the walls of the cemetery. His son, Philip the Bold (reigned 1270 – 1285), had a halle built there, but, in 1278, confirmed his father's declaration. The structure, whose income does not appear in later accounts, lasted into the reign of Henry II (reigned 1547-1559). (The rue de la Lingerie references this institution.)

Philip the Bold also had a halle built for the skin dressers and shoemakers, the latter finished in 1278.

By 1320, the Halles were “finished”; that is, as they would be for several centuries after. Biollay:
The completion of the agglomeration of the Halles then was accomplished from 1263 to 1320; this was for France a relatively happy time, marked by considerable material and economic progress. A more regular regime favored the development of commerce and agriculture and attempts were made to draw foreign merchants by privileges. The extension of the great Parisian market was the necessary consequence of the progress realized.
With all the official steps, the growth of the market to this point can also be viewed as an organic extension of the city, and this is how Raoul de Presles, a fourteenth century figure, described it:
Near this cemetery a market began to be held, and it was called the Little Fields because it was all fields; and this place has still retained this name. And, because of the market, first people began to make shelters and little cabins.... And bit by bit houses were built, and made halles there to sell all sorts of goods. And so the city grew as far as the Saint Denis gate.

Changes in the business model

In 1263, Saint Louis ceded one of the halles to the mercers on the condition that they not only pay him a rent but see to all repairs and even rebuild the structure at their own cost should it be destroyed. The result was a steady revenue for the Crown, and this became the model going forward. By 1368, all the trades established there paid rent and saw to maintenance. This became obligatory for a growing number; in 1380, the second-hand clothes dealers were not only obliged to leave another location to fill an empty spot in the Halles, but to build shelters and pave the roads.

Says Biollay, “It was not with a selfless intention that the royal domain ensured itself the entire ownership of the market of the Champeaux and that it eliminated the competition that the St. Laurent fair could have offered this new establishment.” By the fourteenth century, royal acts treat as long-standing the obligation for certain products to be brought to the Halles. This obligation originally only applied once a week.
The charges and the costs which this obligation of frequenting the "King's market" imposed on Parisian merchants was not without compensation for them. The competition from itinerant merchants was limited to market days, during which the prud'hommes of the trades exercised their juridiction and their oversight on the merchandise brought by outside merchants.
Thus organized, the Halles must have resembled the bazaars of cities of the Orient, where all commercial activity is concentrated. The establishment of obligatory markets in the Champeaux was perhaps only an import due to the Crusades.
As one proof of this, Biollay points out that at this time only “several” cities in the kingdom had such obligations. Certainly the one detailed description of these early Halles, which mainly sold cloth and dry goods, might almost have come from the Thousand and One Nights. In 1323, Jean de Jandun (c. 1285–1323), a visitor from the northern town of Senlis, wrote:
This joyous stay of the most agreeable distractions offers, in very large displays full of inestimable treasures, all the most diverse types of showpieces united in the house called the Halles of the Champeaux. There, if you have the desire and the means, you can buy all the types of ornaments that the most practiced industry can provide, that the most inventive spirit hurries to imagine to fulfill all your desires.... in several places in the lower parts of this market, and so to say in heaps, piles of other merchandise, are found cloths more beautiful the one than the other, superb pelisses, some made from animal skins, others from silk stuffs, others finally made of fine and foreign materials... In the upper part of the building, which forms something like a street of a stunning length, are shown all the objects which serve to adorn the different parts of the human body: for the head, crowns, braids, caps; ivory combs for the hair, mirrors for looking at oneself, belts for the hips, purses to hang at one's side, gloves for the hands, necklaces for the chest, and other things of this type, which I cannot cite, more because of the poverty of Latin words than for lack of having seen them. But, so that the innumerable splendors of these brilliant objects, whose variety and infinite number resist a complete and detailed description, can at least be suggested in a superficial ensemble, let me put it this way: In these showplaces, the regards of strollers see so many decorations for entertainments for weddings and great feasts smiling to their eyes, that after having half perused one row an impetuous desire takes them towards the other, and that after having crossed the full length an insatiable need to renew this pleasure, not once nor twice, but as if indefinitely, in returning to the start, would make them restart the tour, if they were to trust their desire.
Whatever Eastern model might have suggested regular, rent-based markets, Biollay sees a practical advantage in this development. Typically markets had charged a tonlieu, which might be variously described as a toll or even something like a sales tax. This was practical in smaller contexts, but as cities grew, trying to guarantee payment with the means of the period grew more problematic. With a market like the Halles, the authorities no longer had to concern themselves with these difficulties (at least with its regular tenants); payment was provided in the form of a rent or subscription and, for an increasing number of trades, transactions at the market were obligatory. (In fact, in later statutes, both in Paris and elsewhere, a frequent stipulation was that goods were not to be intercepted for purchase before they had reached the official market.)

In prosperous times, these requirements were accepted with good will. However, as the fourteenth century progressed and times became more uncertain and commerce declined, less merchants came and the authorities were less able to enforce their attendance. They also stopped maintaining their locales.

The royal Domain then suffered a double prejudice. The collection of rights of tonlieu was subject to fraud; the Halles fell into ruin. Reforming commissioners were named in 1368 to reestablish the observance of the ordinances. Various problems of currency, obstructive regulations, attempts at price regulation, etc. “obliged the authorities to intervene in order to ensure the provisioning of the markets. Prescriptions relative to the obligatory bringing of goods and markets became more rigorous.”

One effect was to increase the number of days on which the market was obligatory. On October 13, 1368, these were set as Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Protests led to some modification in these for selected trades. "It was by constraint that Parisian commerce was brought back to the Halles and constraint had to be used to keep it there."

Patent letters from January 28, 1454 stated;
Our Halles by lack of support have fallen into ruin and how many of these halles were rebuilt by our statute and put in good and proper state, all roads, despite the said discontinuation, the merchants tradespeople and others do not want to go there to establish nor sell their goods to the prejudice of the public good and the diminishing of our domain.
Such efforts were repeated in the year that followed. But, says Biollay,
From then on, the royal Domain gave up on bringing back to the Halles the artisans and shopkeepers who had deserted them; the destination of this market was to change and the transformation it would undergo in the XVIth century would be the result of the elimination of obligatory market days and the falling away of the regulations which ordered them.
The sixteenth century changes were profound and beyond our scope here. But already one change crept in: almost imperceptibly, the Halles began to change from a dry goods market to a food market.

Food comes to Les Halles

Jandun's vivid description above says not a word about food. Despite the exceptions of wheat and fish, the fourteenth century market was still not a food market. Its focus on dry goods and textiles is reflected in the street names, many named, then or later, for the trade or products they housed: la Ganterie (glove makers); la rue de la Lingerie (linen makers); la Frepperie (second hand clothes dealers); la place aux Toiles (cloths); la rue de la Chanvoirrie (hemp).

As late as 1523, outside merchants could sell poultry, game and other meats at the Cossonnerie and at the Paris Gate; fresh water fish at the Paris Gate, the Petit-Pont and the Baudoyer gate; eggs, cheese and butter at the Saint-Jean cemetery and on the rue Neuve-Notre-Dame. Only in 1590, after important changes at the Halles, was the latter explicitly named among these. (The status of the Cossonnerie is ambivalent, since Biollay includes some trade there as being in the Halles.)

Biollay gives one explanation for this:
Near the limits of Paris, in quarters still taking shape, the Halles could not become from the start a market for provisions. No doubt access to the Halles was not forbidden to outside vendors who wanted to bring goods there; that is proven by the taxes to which they were subject and which the trade registers mention. But the marginal location of this market, the small space available, the liberty left to itinerant merchants to frequent the markets which suited them the best, contributed to prolonging the existence of the old centers of provisions of the rue Neuve-Notre-Dame, the Paris Gate, the Petit-Pont, the Baudoyer gate and the old Saint Jean cemetery, where the sellers and the buyers were accustomed to interact.
Even the sale of livestock had ended by 1292, when the tax rolls referred to “the old place of Pigs”.

Biollay believes, credibly, that the sale of food began informally through resellers, who had no official place in the market. The fact that they had no official status, however, does not mean they were free from oversight. Under Saint Louis, the voyer (that is, the official in charge of the voies, or roads) had the right to collect charges from various retailers, including “the rights due from the cheese mongers who sold in the halles before the Rappée house; those paid by the renters of stalls 'for crapois [whale blubber]', for figs and grapes, 'from before the box of the Halles until the mercery'...”

Note that the latter defined the space later taken up by the market of the Poirées, or green-goods.

The same document declares that the voyer assigned "because of his office places in which to sell needles... and those to sell butter, eggs, cheese, garlic, onions, cabbage, leeks and other greens..." The fact that these foods were on a par with needles – that is, a minor accessory to the main dry goods trade – gives a good idea of their place in the market at this point.

Biollay points out that the profits the voyer made from these transactions may be one reason that food was slow to take its place among the official items in the market (at which point the King's Domain, not the voyer, reaped the benefit).

Boileau's thirteenth century Livre des metiers also mentions fruit and "all sort of aigrun" being brought to the Halles. Biollay interprets the latter as meaning vegetables, but in fact it was a more nuanced word referring to various “tart” foods, which could include garlic, onions, scallions, but also tart fruits, such as oranges. Boileau also mentions resellers buying these products to resell them at the Halles; this gives an idea of the low-level nature of this early food trade in the Halles.

By the early fifteenth century, the Halles was already, if still unofficially, one of the main places to buy food. The “Bourgeois of Paris” who left a journal of the troubled years from 1405 to 1449, mentions various foods at the Halles at several points. When a truce in 1416 allowed food into Paris, he wrote that “so many goods came to Paris, of bacon, of pressed [that is, hard] cheeses, that they were piled in the Halles as high as a man”. In 1426, “there were so many cherries that many times one had 9 pounds of them at the Paris Halles for 4 parisis deniers”. In 1430, a shortage of oil led people to “eat butter in that Lent, from the Halles, as in meat-eating time.”

He also mentions in that year, as he does in several others, executions in the Halles, this of a group of marauders. Ten had their heads cut off; but then:
The eleventh was a very handsome young son of about 23 years, he was stripped and his eyes ready to blindfold, when a young girl born in the Halles came boldly to ask and did so much for his good redemption that he was returned to the Châtelet, and since they were married together.
(Such stories are found elsewhere and often involved women, like prostitutes, whose prospects were otherwise poor. Whether anything is implied here by the girl being born in the Halles is unclear.)

In 1444, when produce was plentiful, he said that one could have “the most beautiful bunch of leeks from the Halles for 1 denier." In 1447, he describes piles of pears at the Halles, in piles like coal, “not only one, but 6 or 7 piles, and as many or more apples brought from the regions of Langedoc, of Normandy and several other regions.”

All this shows the Halles as a standard place to go for many foods. But note that the Bourgeois is writing from an individual's point of view; this was a retail, not a wholesale trade, as it largely was later. Nor is it clear if any official halle existed for all this trade at this point (though the market for green-goods – see below – probably grew up around this time).

One item one might have expected to see sold, along with wheat, was wine, long a staple of commerce in France. But in 1192 Philip-August ordered that itinerant wine merchants sell their products from boats. By the fourteenth century, they were allowed to take them to the Halles, probably, says Biollay, because the wines in question were local and so brought by land. The halle where they could be sold was known as the Étape (the Stage). This trade, however, was never very important and the location itself seems to have been too small for the trade, so that in 1413, noting that the wine wagons were blocking neighboring streets, patent letters had the trade transferred to the Grève.

In later centuries, the bread market at the Halles would be one of the most important in Paris. Bread was sold relatively early there, starting once a week in the twelfth century, but the trade was not significant for a long time. In 1305, its sale was briefly authorized all week, but in 1307, this was cut back to Wednesdays and Saturdays, and this would remain the case through the eighteenth century.

No separate place was set for bread sales (though perhaps the Rappée's old privilege allowed it to sell the bread from its oven directly). Biollay suggests it was probably sold at the wheat market.

Poultry too was sold in the Halles, starting once a week in the twelfth century. This still applied in 1364. Once again, there was no halle for this retail trade, but a document of 1350 refers to two places where poultry was sold: the rue Neuve-Notre-Dame and, in the Halles, the rue de la Cossonnerie. In 1590, poultry was still sold in this same street.

The first new halles for food came at the start of the fifteenth century. The halle of Beauvais was originally for textiles from that region, but was vacant by 1416. The great butchery of the Paris Gate had then been demolished and in August of the year a royal butchery with sixteen stalls was created in part of that halle. This was known as the Butchery of Beauvais and would survive past the “reform” of the sixteenth century, undergoing several changes along the way.

The transfer was not exclusive. The Bourgeois wrote:
The first week of the following September, the butchers were forbidden to any longer sell their meat on the Notre Dame bridge, and in this said week they began to sell at the halle of Beauvais, on the Petit-Pont, at the Baudays gate, and about 15 days later they began to sell in front of Saint-Lieufray at the Trou-Pugnais.
Until this point, says Biollay, butchers had paid a charge which released them from any obligation of selling at the Halles. This is strange, however, since it implies that they otherwise would have been obliged to use a facility which until this point was not specifically equipped for butchering. In the eighteenth century, butchers still often slaughtered their animals in the street, resulting in a notorious stench, not to mention blood-sleeked streets. It is unlikely that the activity was any more self-contained in these earlier years.

To complicate matters, the Bourgeois wrote in 1421 that “the Sunday before Pentecost the butchers began to sell meat at the Paris gate, and left the Saint-Jean cemetery, Petit-Pont, the Beauvais halle and other butcheries which had been made before.” Since the butchers were still found in the Beauvais halle later, this situation clearly proved to be temporary; was it a momentary protest or, perhaps, due to the troubled circumstances of the time?

It may be relevant that a revaluation of the currency had just caused a steep rise in prices, leading to frank profiteering by merchants so that
the poor people suffered so much poverty, hunger, cold and other misfortunes, that no one knows but God in Paradise, because when the dog killer had killed the dogs, the poor people followed him to the fields to have the flesh or the guts to eat.
The next major halle for food had a particular significance, according to Biollay:
The most important of the secondary markets, the most interesting even, because it became with the fish halles the heart of the current halles, that is the halle of Green Goods (Poirées), called indifferently "halle" or "market".
The Green Goods halle appears in the 1484 accounts: the account of 1447 mentions a house "before the market of 'Green Goods'” and along the Four-Saint-Martin alley. This market appears again in the account for 1450 and in that of 1472.
From its name alone, this market no doubt was for the sale of vegetables and herbs; probably, like the market of the same name centuries later, it also provided an outlet for fruit.

By the end of the fifteenth century then, dedicated halles existed for wheat, fish, meat and greens. Meanwhile, Paris itself continued to grow, so that what had been an outlying part of the city ended up, over time, at its center. The Halles was still not “the belly of Paris” and even physically it would undergo further changes. Before Baltard designed his iconic pavilions in the mid-nineteenth century, the Halles would undergo the “reform” of the sixteenth century and a series of other changes; there is far more to its story going forward. But we have seen here how a small market by a cemetery grew to a major textiles and dry goods market and then, as the Middle Ages ended, moved a good way towards its later role as one of the world's most famous food markets.


Lombard-Jourdan (Anne). Aux origines de Paris: la genèse de la Rive droite jusqu'en 1223. 1985

Bacquet, Jean, Oeuvres: Divisee En Cinq Tomes. Des Droicts De Ivstice, Havte, Moyenne, Et Basse,V3 1644

 de Lincy, Le Roux, L.M. Tisserand, Paris et ses historiens aux 14e et 15e siècles

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